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United Blues: Cripps, players wrap arms around Bolts

Cripps speaks on Blues' turmoil, Watts' frustration Nat Edwards with all the latest news

CARLTON will wrap its arms around Brendon Bolton.

That's the message from Blues skipper Patrick Cripps, who has been one of a number of senior figures at the club to ensure Bolton remained upbeat following yet another narrow defeat over the weekend.

External pressure on Bolton's position has been ramped up following Sunday's loss to the Suns, which extended the team's disappointing winless start to the season to four matches.

The club's most recent defeat – courtesy of a Jack Bowes goal with just 10 seconds remaining – left Bolton visibly upset having coached the match from the bench.

 

He was consoled by the club's CEO Cain Liddle in the rooms after the game, with Cripps emphatic when revealing he too had checked up on his coach earlier this week.

"We always do," Cripps told AFL.com.au.

He's a human with emotions, everyone is going to have emotions.

"The thing with the AFL industry is that everyone puts the pressure on the head coach. He's just part of the jigsaw at the footy club.

"I think that's what makes footy clubs such a good place. There's Bolts, there's the players, there's the leaders, there's the high-performance staff, there's other coaches … we're all in this together.

"There's not going to be one secret thing that fixes everything. We're all working together, and I think the main thing is to stay united and work hard."

Despite the growing pressure on Bolton, a defiant Cripps has stressed that the responsibility lies directly at the feet of the playing group.

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As a result, Cripps believes it is the duty of the players to put things right against the Western Bulldogs this week.

"The players have got to drive it," Cripps said.

"The coaches can do the framework throughout the week of how we improve, but the onus is on the players. We're the ones out there performing.

"We get the message during the week, now we need to go out and execute. We’re driving each other really hard at the moment. We're there for each other, but we’re also challenging each other.

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"We'll get there – there is no doubt we'll get there – but there is no secret answer. It's just about hard work and staying together."

A particularly frustrating aspect of Carlton's winless start to the season has been its inability to close out games, with the young side within touching distance of victory in every match.

It led Gold Coast with just 15 seconds remaining on Sunday, while it got to within three points of Port Adelaide in the final quarter of its round two clash and within 13 points of Richmond and Sydney in the last quarters of their respective matches.

However, despite that improvement, Carlton has very little to show for its efforts – Sunday's defeat was its 26th loss in its last 28 games.

 

But Cripps believes the way in which the rebuilding side has kept alive its spirit throughout this period is testament to the club's belief in its direction under Bolton.

"It was obviously frustrating last year with the win-loss record," Cripps said.

"But I think if you fast-forward to this year you can see how much growth we've already had as a team in terms of being in games. We're working on that.

"It's going to turn – it's definitely going to turn – especially with the amount of work we're putting in and with how united we are as a group.

"As long as we stay together and keep challenging ourselves and celebrating different things, it will definitely click."

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